Mehatl Falls

Statistics

Total Distance: 7.8 km (return)
Estimated Time: 2.5 hours
Average Grade: 1.9%
Structure: Linear - Return
Elevation Gain: 75 m
Start Elevation: 335 m
Max Elevation: 410 m

Directions

Follow Highway #1 (Trans-Canada) to the town of Boston Bar, located in the heart of the Fraser Canyon. Follow signs for North Bend, turning left immediately before a Husky service station. Now on Boston Bar Station Road, continue over a set of railroad tracks and turn right onto Chaumox Road. Cross the river on the bridge leading to the small community of North Bend and reset your odometer at a second set of railway tracks.

Eventually the road will cross a one-lane bridge and turn west up the Nahatlatch River valley, traversing a long section of beautiful valley bottom. After a small number of recreational sites, the road passes through Nahatlatch Provincial Park and several lakeside campsites. After Squakum Campground at 33.5 km, the road leads sharply uphill past the last of the lakes and begins to deteriorate substantially. A reasonable 2WD vehicle can make it past these sections, but the occasional small landslide of loose rock and gravel can cover parts of the road. At 47.6 km, watch for a metal trailhead sign located on the right at one end of a large gravel clearing. Park here.

Details

The Mehatl Falls Trail accesses a series of scenic cascades near the mouth of the extensive Mehatl River valley, a relatively large, unlogged drainage in the transitional rainshadow country of the southeastern Coast Mountains. The trail traverses a mix of old growth and second growth forest typical of the forests of the Nahatlatch River drainage, the long river valley that the Mehatl feeds into.

The trail is unmarked, and is initially a narrow track leaving the western end of the log sort-one can actually drive this track for some distance, and a couple of campsites are located in the second growth DF-LPP forest lining the track. Follow the gently undulating to ascending track as it winds through the dry woodland. A couple of small washouts sometimes channel small streams onto the track, and alder shades several portions of the track. Eventually, the track ends at a broad flooded area filled with stark, silvery snags. A bypass path departs on the right, following the edge of the pond before rejoining the old road on the far side. The lush vegetation encroaches on the track on the far side, with alder, birch, vine maple, thimbleberry, salmonberry, huckleberry and other plants. The surrounding forest is dominated by second growth DF and lesser LPP. The path climbs slightly, then drops moderately gently to near the edge of the rushing Nahatlatch River. The track soon departs the vicinity of the river, and soon fades out near the base of a small rock bluff. The path continues, however, climbing over the edge of the bluff, then dropping into old growth DF-WPP-WRC forest. A few DF trees approach 1m in diameter, while the largest WPP is approximately 60 cm thick. More up-and-down path soon leads back down to the edge of the clear, rushing waters of Mehatl Creek. The path now winds through stands of old growth DF up to 1.2 to 1.3m in diameter, with smaller WRC (to 50 cm), ES (to 80 cm), WPP (to 40 cm) and LPP shading the path. Alders overhang the clear water, and occasional mossy boulders and patches of sand invite lingering.

Eventually, the route crosses a few open, mossy rock outcrops with views over the creek channel. Beyond the second, the trail drops to the edge of the creek again next to a side channel of the beautiful stream. Just beyond, the path climbs slightly to a view of a broad pool backed by the lowest of the Mehatl cascades-a ~10m drop down polished slabs. Pine-studded outcrops and mossy boulders provide great viewing platforms. The path, however, continues up the dirt bank, climbing to the top of the bank, then traversing back to the edge of the river above the falls. Not far beyond, a dim patch of old growth DF and WRC leads to the second cascade complex. Here, the river divides, with one ~15m slab cascade on the left, interrupted by a spectacular jet of water in mid-fall. The fall on the right is more complex, crashing through enormous, polished boulders-an absolute chaos of atomized water. The path continues beyond the edge of the pool at the base, climbing onto a ridge of polished granite above the falls. The ridge is actually part of a series of ascending outcrops covered with a sparse woodland of LPP. The creek below bends sharply here, rushing through rapids in a shallow granite canyon. Upstream, another upper pair of cascades appears, perhaps totaling 30m in height. The easiest route stays relatively close to the canyon rim, ascending moderately gently to moderately and passing an open area with views up the Nahatlatch Valley. The route passes a number of viewpoints of the vigorous cascades, with one ledge providing access to the polished rock at the lip of the upper cascade.

The rock ridges soon devolve into open gravel moraines as the stream bends above the falls and enters the broad, deserted forests of the middle Mehatl Valley. The moraines can be ascended, avoiding steep ground near the canyon rim as the route (no trail at this point) begins ascending onto the eastern slopes of the Mehatl Valley. The slopes are generally wooded with DF and LPP forest, with rougher, steeper ground making travel into the middle valley somewhat more challenging. The upper cascade makes a good destination point for a short day, with the vibrant stream immersed in the edge of wilderness-the gateway to a forgotten valley.

Photographs

GPS Waypoints

Trailhead N49.93694 W121.93358 10U 576526 5532165
Marshland pond N49.93683 W121.95007 10U 575343 5532136
Edge of Mehatl Creek N49.93224 W121.95784 10U 574793 5531617
Trail leaves old road N49.92966 W121.96197 10U 574500 5531326
Lower Mehatl Falls N49.92888 W121.97571 10U 573515 5531226
Upper Mehatl Falls N49.92928 W121.97679 10U 573437 5531270
Top of falls N49.92974 W121.97721 10U 573406 5531320